ASPCA – General Cat Care

OSPCA – Keeping Cats Safe

Living With Your Cat – Petfinder

Kitten Care: The Kitten Lady

The Paw Project

Cats need their claws! Declawing is mutilation and is the equivalent of cutting all your fingers off at the first knuckle. It can make a cat less likely to use the litter box or more likely to bite. Declawing also can cause lasting physical problems for your cat. We applaud The Paw Project in their advocacy to end de-clawing:

Dangers of Free-Roaming

In addition to the wide variety of risks that free-roaming exposes your feline friend to, there are a few diseases that they are highly susceptible to. These include FIV, FeLV and FIP.


FIV  is a feline-only, slow-acting virus that compromises the cat’s immune system over time. Because the immune system is compromised – you need to stay on top of any possible infections and ensure the cat is seen by a vet at least annually just like any other pet in your household. FIV cannot be transmitted to people or other animal species. It is passed from cat to cat through deep bite wounds, the kind that usually occurs outdoors during aggressive fights and territorial disputes—a perfect reason to keep your cat inside. FIV is not passed between cats through casual contact – i.e. sharing food bowls or litter boxes, playing or licking. FIV positive cats can live with non-FIV cats without fear of infection provided the cats are not biters – play fighting is okay and is normal – it is the angry deep bite where a cat can inject their saliva into the bloodstream of another cat that can spread the virus. In fact, Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine conducted a long-term study in cat shelters and found that FIV-positive cats can live with FIV-negative cats and not infect the FIV-negative cats during normal day-to-day interaction.

While there is no cure for FIV, so much more is known about the virus then even five years ago when a diagnosis of FIV was a death sentence for cats. Cats with FIV can live long and healthy lives. In fact, studies over the last 10 years or so have shown that cats with FIV often live as long as otherwise healthy cats that do not have this virus.


Feline leukemia virus (FELV) is one of the most common infectious diseases in cats but the prevalence of FeLV has decreased significantly in the past 25 years since the development of an effective vaccine and accurate testing procedures.

Cats infected with FELV serve as sources of infection for other cats. The virus is shed in saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and milk of infected cats. Cat-to-cat transfer of the virus may occur from a bite wound, during mutual grooming, and (rarely) through the shared use of litter boxes and feeding dishes. Transmission can also take place from an infected mother cat to her kittens, either before they are born or while they are nursing. FELV does not survive long outside a cat’s body – probably less than a few hours under normal household conditions.

Cats at greatest risk of FELV infection are those that may be exposed to infected cats, either via prolonged close contact or through bite wounds. Such cats include cats living with infected cats or with cats of unknown infection status, cats allowed outdoors unsupervised where they may be bitten by an infected cat, and kittens born to infected mothers.

Kittens are much more susceptible to FELV infection than are adult cats and therefore are at the greatest risk of infection if exposed. However, even healthy adult cats can become infected if sufficiently exposed.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for FELV. The only sure way to protect cats from FELV is to prevent their exposure to FELV-infected cats. There is a relatively effective vaccine against FELV available – consider the cats’ risk of exposure to FELV-infected cats and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this vaccine with your veterinarian.


Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a viral disease that occurs when the coronavirus, a common and usually harmless feline virus mutates into FIP. The virus will mutate when a cat is genetically prone to help the virus mutate and when there is a stressor present that triggers the mutation. FIP is not contagious but the underlying relatively harmless coronavirus is.

There are two major forms of FIP, an effusive, or “wet” form, and a noneffusive, or “dry” form. Generally, cats will exhibit the signs of the noneffusive form FIP more slowly than the effusive form. Symptoms generally include chronic weight loss, depression, anemia, and a persistent fever that does not respond to antibiotic therapy.

The effusive form of FIP is characterized by an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, or less commonly in the chest. Early in the disease, the cat may exhibit similar symptoms to the dry form, including weight loss, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy. The wet form of the disease often progresses rapidly, and the cat may quickly appear pot-bellied due to fluid accumulation in the abdomen. When fluid accumulation becomes excessive, it may become difficult for the cat to breathe normally.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure or effective treatment for FIP at this time.

In multi-cat environments, keeping cats as healthy as possible and minimizing exposure to infectious agents decreases the likelihood of cats developing FIP. Litter boxes should be kept clean and located away from food and water dishes. Litter should be cleansed of feces daily, and the box should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected regularly. Newly acquired cats and any cats that are suspected of being infected should be separated from other cats. Preventing overcrowding, keeping cats current on vaccinations, and providing proper nutrition can also help decrease the occurrence of FIP in groups of cats.

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